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Full text of "A search in secret Egypt"

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fortunes of creeds, whose followers begin by suffering the horrors of martyrdom and persecution, and end by inflicting them upon others in their turn, and who must ravage the art of their predecessors in order to create an art of their own.
Proud, crowned Ptolemies once drove up to this temple in golden chariots, before a populace hushed with awe; so I reflected as I was about to enter. Crowds, too, once congregated in the deserted temple yard.
I placed myself at a point among the immensely girthed columns of the portico, where I could look up and inspect the beautiful blue ceiling which was spangled with many stars and bore the zodiacal cirde as an adornment. Then across into the second hall, where the glorious African blue no longer illumined the six colossal columns that stood within it, as it had illumined their more numerous brothers in the vestibule. I penetrated farther into the vast, gloomy temple, flashing the light of my torch here and there. Now the beam was focused upon mitred figures cut deep into the sides of pillars and set within square frames or profuse hieroglyphic inscriptions, else separated by broad horizontal bands from each other; then it showed up the forms of Pharaohs and their deities on the walls, some on their thrones and some in procession. In a deeply carved relief, Ptplemy approached Isis and the young Horus, with offerings in both hands: a beautiful raised border surmounted the scene. Everywhere the faces had been scratched, partly erased or wholly mutilated. And everywhere Hathor recurs, the solid shafts of the stone pillars displaying her head, and the walls her entire form.
I sauntered slowly on, for the whole length of the principal hall—a good deal more than two hundred feet—in an atmosphere that was somewhat unpropitious to study and reflection. For dust loaded the century-imprisoned air and a heavy odour assailed one's nostrils. High up in the blackened roof, and among the pillar heads, whirred and squeaked a legion of ugly winged monsters, which were furious at my unexpected entry at a season of the year when tourists never invaded their domain. They were bats. "Intruder}" they shrieked in chorus. "Intruder! This is not the time to travel through Egypt. Take away that offensive lamp of yours, with its strong and horrifying glare; take yourself away, too. Leave us to enjoy our ancestral perches and traditional trysting-places among the gloomy Hathor-heads and black-surfaced cornices. Be off